Viewpoint: ‘Heritage’ of emotional decision-making fuels EU’s opposition to biotech crops

AP
Greenpeace protesters demonstrate with banners on Thursday, March 10, 2005 in front of the European Union Ministers' Council Building in Brussels, Belgium. Image Credit: AP Photo/LUXPRESS/Jean-Claude Ernst)

As Daniel Patrick Moynihan, American politician and diplomat famously put it, “You are entitled to your opinion. But you are not entitled to your own facts.” But it seems to me that opinions …. have held sway in a series of recent decisions by Europe’s regulators and judges.

In July this year, judges at the European Court of Justice ruled that the new and highly controllable Crispr techniques of gene editing must be treated as if they were the equivalent of older and far less controllable genetic engineering methods  …. The ruling will prevent the use of Crispr in targeted development of new crop plants with desirable traits.

Exposure and risk, the fruits of toxicological knowledge developed over centuries through the application of reason, are not considered …. Despite countless high quality studies demonstrating its safety, glyphosate remains under threat, following the International Agency for Research on Cancer’s deeply flawed hazard-based assessment.

Related article:  'No reason to panic': Experts react to study suggesting CRISPR isn't as precise as we thought

Many observers may take the view that these decisions are simply an expression of the spirit of the European people …. The problems emerge when precautionary steps replace considered risk evaluations and the consequences of decisions are not fully considered …. It is troubling that Europe’s willingness to impair …. innovation is at least partly dependent on the assumption that …. feelings, opinions, and conjecture are of equal value with reason and knowledge.

Read full, original article: Viewpoint: With European risk management at a crossroads, can reason prevail?

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